Aug 16, 2006

Flowers for the Gun Barrel

by satovic

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There was a time when I lived in Israel.
It was a town on the shore, not far from the borders of Lebanon.
In those days, the country was not in combat like today, and there were only minor scuffles now and then.
Even still, one had to be prepared to ride a bus.
On the trucks that go back and forth between the west bank region and Jordan, there is nothing on the shaft other then a bed.
Because it resembles a skeleton, it was called a ‘skeleton truck’ and it was used to hold inspections to prevent unwanted objects such as bombs and weapons from being transported.
Once in a while, bombs were set in the buses, and people lost their arms, legs and lives.
But when you didn’t have money, you had no other choice but to ride these buses, and that was daily life.

I once stayed in Jerusalem.
In the small alleys, mules with bundles, little children coming back from school and women wearing Arabian outfits with round pita breads piled high on their heads were seen along with the tourists, and it seemed like things had not changed from the age of the bible.
But one early evening, when I opened the door, the air of the town was different.
There was nothing different in what I saw in the alley.
It was just the air.

That afternoon, a Jewish policeman had been killed by someone out side the Jaffa Gate that led to the old city.
Nothing else happened.
It may have happened, but it didn’t happen that day.

No one said anything, but I could feel that the air of the whole town was tense.
But people ate supper, closed their shops, slept and opened the shops again.
That was daily life.

I once visited a farm village in Cambodia.
In the laid-back scenery, I saw two lines on the ground which were drawn carelessly with lime powder.
I was told not to cross those lines.
On the other side was a minefield.
Outside the lines, the cows ate grass leisurely.
It was because no one could bring them back.
That was daily life.

That night, when I was eating at a restaurant, I got caught up in a shooting that started among the Vietnamese soldiers sitting at the table next to us.
In those days, the Vietnamese army was stationed in Cambodia.
On the plate that I used to put fish bones in, I heard a metallic sound, and a bullet that hit the ceiling fell into it.

The person who was sitting in front of me reached for the pot and said to me, “don’t move, keep on eating, and try not to aggravate them. Then, one by one, leave this table. OK, satovic, you go first.”
“What?”
While I was turning totally pale, he continued to eat placing the contents of the pot on his rice. While the sound of shooting went on, he ate until the last of us had left that table.”

The commotion had been caused by a fight by the soldiers that brought out their guns after getting drunk.
Even if we had been hit by a stray bullet, it was useless to complain.
The whole situation was just outrageous.
It wasn’t like dying for a cause, or dying to protect something.
It was dying for nothing.
But at the time, there was only one thing to do.
Eat what was in front of us.
Then leave the table quietly.
That was the daily life for the people in that town, in that summer.

Even at the battlefields, the actual fighting with soldiers holding heavy weapons is only a short part of the time people are at war.
The rest of the time means, to continue to lead the daily life of eating, moving our bowels, peeing, and sleeping, under the tension of the possibility that we may kill others, or others may kill us.

Caught up in this outrageousness and tension, people start to make mistakes in their judgments.

There is such a thing as sin of creating unnecessary tension in the hearts of people. These have nothing to do with cause, ideals, or justice, and places with tanks and missiles are not the only battlefields.
On this day, I renewed my memories on this matter.

(originally posted on the board of B.S.J.
on August 15, 2006 - the day marking the end of World War II)

14 comments:

jaime said...

Wow flowerbossa, what an eye-opener and a switch of mood in this article. Just curious, what's Satovic's profession (or rather, vocation) that brought her to all these war-torn regions?

The highs and lows of experiences that this lady has gone through is unbelievable! I think life is still fair, her horrified life and death struggle is counter-balanced by her ecstatic meeting with the warmest, kindest, handsomest human being. She has indeed seen both evil and beauty of humanity. God bless her!

Yeah, we should be thankful that we are always surrounded by kindness and beauty in this BYJ world. Thanks for translating this post!

flowerbossa said...

Hi Jaime,

Yes, quite amazing isn't it.
Satovic was a journalist, but it seems that living in Israel had nothing to do with it - she worked in a kibbutz (don't ask me why!)

I'm sure she has a lot more to share... if you want to hear it.

I'm just thankful that she came back in one piece to be with us!

jaime said...

oh a kibbutz! I learn a new word today. Wow, Satovic has probably seen anything and everything that a person needs to know (or doesn't need to know)about this world! Agree with you that thankful she can come back to friends like you.

Look forward to reading the next instalment from you, thanks!

mrs a said...

Beautiful... and so devastating to know it is real. Look at all the many blessings we have. A comfortable home, enough clothes, loved ones and no fear of going outside. Makes my heart so heavy when I think of the turmoil whether now in Israel, Iraq, or even during the horrendous 911 disaster. What amazes me is the people who withstand these wars, hatred and ordeals. The strenght they have to endure like Ann Frank and her family.
Thank you so much for sharing.

marissa said...

Thanks flowerbossa, satovic's experience is Israel just made me recall how I avoided taking the bus and always opt for taxis whenever I go around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Sounds of sirens are very common and it seems the people are oblivious to it because it's part of their daily life. It's my pervent wish that there be no more wars so no life will be lost and no one will suffer from it.

flowerbossa said...

Jaime,

I don't need to tell you that she likes to see most things for herself, but what is amazing is that these experiences change her for the better.

So lucky to have her has a friend.

flowerbossa said...

Hello mrs. a,

Yes, I am always thankful for all I have that it almost makes me feel guilty sometimes.

I too marvel at how human beings can be so strong. Especially those who always have the strength to love.

flowerbossa said...

Marissa,

Now you are a great traveller, too!
I would love to hear your stories sometime.

Yes, like satovic says, I hope that I can at least avoid creating unwanted tension for others!

Anonymous said...

Hello,
Nowadays, nowhere in this world is safe anymore. This story makes me think about a lot of things.

Is it okay to share this story with Korean sisters?

suehan

flowerbossa said...

Hi suehan,

Thanks for dropping by.
Just sent you an e-mail, so
please check it, OK?

Arigato!

bb said...

wow.

a poignantly beautiful piece, this one. there're just so many facets to our dear satovic, ya? and her experience somehow didn't jade or tire her out... or at least i didn't think so. to me, she's someone who lives life. i love her passion, her energy and how her eyes still twinkle and sparkle when she talks about people and things that matter to her.

it's quite strange actually. i don't really know her know her, but i really do like this woman alot. a very interesting character.

another thing that striks me about satovic... she's obviously intelligent and has a mind of her own, and i'm sure she has her own take on most issues. but most of the time, she's also quite happy letting other people share their experience and views. she doesn't impose. and god knows she has alot more to share than an average person.

can't wait to write about her in my fanmories :)

and flowerbossa, reading the english version, i can almost imagine how beautiful the original japanese version must have been. you must have retained the original beauty of satovic's writing. thank you so much for sharing this. and i'm so glad i didn't miss this. definitely something to keep to read and re-read time and again.

thank you both.

flowerbossa said...

bb,

I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this piece. satovic wrote this one on a significant date - I think she will be pleased to know tha you read it.

satovic was always a good listener, but ayurveda did a world of good for her. Knowing her for a long time, I feel she has learned to relax, while retaining the energy she always had.

And that's what she wants to convey to other people, too.

bb said...

hi flowerbossa,

yea, she did share with me about the importance of slowing down in life and not get obsessive with chasing after career, material comfort and stuff... else we will just miss the joy of life totally.

me too, hope to reach a stage i'm at peace with myself and the world, and to work hard play hard without rushing excessively. but sometimes, i get all caught up in the so-called rat race and i forget.

it's quite sad how sometimes i forget that the joy of taking a nice, long walk in a nice park can be greater than the joy of buying an expensive handbag. i'm trying to relearn the fact that sometimes in life, simplicity is best. thanks for 'listening'.

flowerbossa said...

BB,

Thank YOU for sharing your thoughts!

Don't forget that you are one beautiful person that makes a lot of people happy.

But you are right, it never hurts to slow down once in a while.

Love & peace,
flowerbossa